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Alpesh Thakor's Break-Up With Congress Shot in the Arm for BJP in Modi-Shah's Turf

According to political analysts, BJP is on a sticky wicket in Banaskantha, Patan and Sabarkantha Lok Sabha seats in North Gujarat and Thakor votes are important to win these seats in the general election.

Vijaysinh Parmar | News18

Updated:April 11, 2019, 9:07 AM IST
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Alpesh Thakor's Break-Up With Congress Shot in the Arm for BJP in Modi-Shah's Turf
Ahmedabad: Former congress leader and Thakor sena leader Alpesh Thakor addresses a news conference after resigning from Congress party in Ahmedabad, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (PTI Photo)
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Ahmedabad: Ending months of speculation about his ‘displeasures’, OBC leader and Congress MLA from Radhanpur, Alpesh Thakor resigned from the grand old party along with two other MLAs on Wednesday.

Thakor posted his resignation letter on his official Facebook page and later addressed media to make wild accusations against senior Congress leaders. He went on to allege that Congress leaders ‘ignored’ Thakor community members. “Thakors have been cheated by the grand old party,” he said.

However, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amit Chavda refuted the allegations and termed Thakor’s allegation and the language he used in resignation letter, as ‘unfortunate’.

“Congress gave him and his supporters tickets to fight assembly polls in 2017 and later on, Alpesh Thakor was accommodated in various party positions. In fact, he was made sub-incharge (Sah Prabhari) of Bihar,’’ Chavda said.

“However, when you join any political party, you have to follow its discipline and principals. You have to set aside your ‘personal ambition’ and take care of party’s interests,’’ Chavda added.

Interestingly, as soon as the news about Alpesh Thakor’s resignation spread, BJP leaders were quick to react.

Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel while talking to News18 Gujarati TV, said that many Congress leaders are leaving the grand old party and joining the BJP due to one-family show there.

It is interesting to note that earlier in October 2018, Patel had blamed Thakor for inciting anti-migrant riots in Gujarat.

The attacks on migrants from UP and Bihar started following the rape of a 14-month-old girl. The 43-year-old’s Thakor Sena was blamed for the attacks on migrants.

How Thakor’s Exit May Impact LS Polls in North Gujarat ?

With Thakor, two of his supporters; Bharatsinh Thakor, an MLA from Becharaji and Dhavalsinh Zala, legislator from Bayad, resigned from Congress but they have said they are not going to resign as legislators.

“I have not resigned as an MLA and I have not joined the BJP,’’ Thakor clarified.

However, Thakor and his aides' resignation just 12 days before Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat, is indeed significant on many counts.

According to political analysts, BJP is on a sticky wicket in Banaskantha, Patan and Sabarkantha Lok Sabha seats in North Gujarat and Thakor votes are important to win these seats in the general election. So, Thakor would help BJP to win these seats in North Gujarat, the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, even without joining BJP.

With Thakor’s anti-Congress stance, BJP plans to gain in Patan and Mehsana Lok Sabha seats as well.

Political analyst Hari Desai believes that some Thakors might be swayed by Alpesh Thakor but not all will go with him as since beginning, he has been bargaining with BJP and Congress.

“Congress gave everything to Thakor and it was his meteoric rise in there as he was even made in-charge of Bihar as well. So, his displeasure with Congress is misplaced. BJP leader and former minister Shanker Chaudhary has been pursuing Thakor since long. For Chaudhary, who contested from Vav assembly constituency in 2017 but lost to Congress’s Geniben Thakor, it’s a matter of political survival.

Chaudhary is presently a Lok Sabha candidate against Congress candidate Parthi Bhatol in Banaskantha. So, as BJP is politically weak in this region, it plans to garner Thakor votes with the help of Alpesh,’’ Desai told News18.

BJP’s Prestige Battle as North Gujarat is Modi-Shah’s Home Turf

Under Banaskantha Lok Sabha seat, seven assembly seats falls. Congress had won five of these seats in 2017 assembly polls while BJP had won two. In this Lok Sabha polls, Congress has fielded co-operative leader Parthi Bhatol against BJP’s Parbat Patel, who is a minister in Vijay Rupani government.

In Patan, seven assembly constituencies come under its Lok Sabha seat. Here, BJP and Congress both won three seats each while one seat was won by Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani. Mevani had support of the Congress.

Alpesh Thakor is an MLA from Radhanpur assembly seat which also falls under Patan Lok Sabha constituency.

In Mehsana Lok Sabha seat, out of the seven assembly seats, BJP had won four seats while Congress had won three seats in 2017 assembly polls.

Prime Minister Modi's native Vadnagar, which falls under Unja assembly seat, also went to Congress in the assembly polls. BJP also lost Mansa assembly seat, the home turf of BJP national president Amit Shah, to Congress.

Thakor’s close aide Bharatsinh Thakor who also resigned on Wednesday is an MLA from Bechraji which falls under Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency.

In Sabarkantha, BJP had won three assembly seats while Congress had won four.

Alpesh’s close aide Zala was elected from Bayad assembly seat which falls into Sabarkantha Lok Sabha constituency.

Interestingly, once seen on stage with Thakor, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani have been keeping distance from Thakor since last few months. Analysts believe that they sensed Thakor’s ambition and inclination towards BJP.

“Former chief minister Anandiben Patel had helped Thakor in 2016 when he launched his outfit to spread social reforms in Thakor community. It was Patel who had advised Alpesh to join Congress as he would have faced difficulties from Amit Shah’s camp in BJP. So, despite bargaining with BJP, Thakor joined the Congress in 2017,’’ Desai claimed.

For the record, Thakor, an OBC, had emerged as a leader as an arch-rival to Hardik Patel as a messiah to protect OBC rights. However, political equations had changed and later, both joined hands to fight against the BJP

Now, Patel is the star campaigner of the Congress while Thakor is set to play spoilsport for the grand old party.

It seems that BJP’s ‘Operation lotus’ again strikes with Thakor’s resignation. Earlier, Congress MLAs Jawahar Chavda (Manavadar), Parshottam Sabariya (Dhrangdhra), Vallabh Dharaviya (Jamnagar Rural) and Ashaben Patel (Unjha) have switched sides and joined BJP.

Only time will tell how much damage Thakor can do to Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

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| Edited by: Debdeep Mukherjee
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